Turtle conservators worried over patrolling vehicles lying

Kendrapara (Odisha): Stuck in mandatory security clearances from three union ministries, the interceptor crafts procured for turtle conservation along Odisha s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary are lying idle for almost a year.

Two interceptor crafts valued at Rs six crore were acquired in April last year from World Bank-sponsored Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZMP) funds, forest department officials said.

As paucity of boats and vessels had hit turtle protection exercise, forest personnel looked forward to better and coordinated patrolling with the arrival of the interceptor crafts.

But things came a cropper since the state-of-the-art crafts equipped with safety and security gadgets could not be put to use as sanction by union home, defence and telecommunication ministries are yet to be received.

The forest department has sought clearances from these ministries, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, B P Acharya.

There is a provision for installation of satellite telephones and radars beside armouries in the 16-seater interceptor boats.

“For installation of safety and security gadgets like radar, we have sought clearance from union home and defence ministries,” he said.

Besides, the telecommunication ministry has also been approached to give clearance for installation of satellite telephones.

“We are also waiting for green signal from the union merchandise and marine department so that the crafts could sail to stop unlawful intrusion of fishing vessels in the marine sanctuary,” he said.

Unlawful fishing activitiy leads to increase in turtle mortality since the marine animals perish, either by getting entangled in fishing nets or being hit by propellers of trawlers, the DFO said.

Besides, there are no approved posts for crews and sailors to operate interceptor crafts. All these have contributed to the idle state of these vessels, he said adding the forest department has sent periodic reminders to the authorities concerned for mandatory clearance. .